Friday, May 18, 2012

April 22nd

I wake to the sound of rain and it slows me down. I roll over, scooch back on to my sleeping pad, cover my head and go back to sleep. When I finally get moving the rain has stopped. I have a dry breakfast, and pack up. I have just over a liter of water and it has to last for two mountains / 5 miles.  The climb up Sassafras kicks my butt and I take many breaks sipping my water. The views are great and the down into Cooper Gap goes quicker. I am excited to see a gallon bottle in the gap until I get close and realize it is empty. Disappointed I head up Justus Mountain.

The second climb of the day seems longer, steeper, but I think I am just tireder. Getting over the mountain has its reward though and I know I must go. Water waits at the bottom or so I thought. I am rewarded early with a fresh spring coming right out of the mountain on the trail about halfway down. This is great because I am thirsty and I am very low on water at this point. I stop right there on the side of the trial drop my filter in and fill up both bottles and then myself. I am passed while sitting here by several hikers and dogs. Notably, Missy and Will pass with Tessa? and Molly? their dogs. They are hiking with the dogs off leash and I meet Tessa first, I am not the only one who is thirsty.

I pass Missy and Will again at the bottom they are filling up at Justus Creek and plan to camp at the campsites. I want to get into the shelter for the night and move on to Gooch Mountain Shelter. There are seven of use in the shelter tonight and tents around the area. Mr. Coffee and two other gentlemen are on the bottom and I am on top with three others.

Mr. Coffee has a fire going for his coffee and keeps it going into the evening. I worry about it some because of the winds and sparks. I try out my back country cooking a little with some ramen, potaoes, tuna and peas. It is good, but the peas are crunchy still.

It is cold and windy and it takes a lot to get warm. Everything including the emergency blanket. I decide I will keep that after all. I apologize to the shelter and we all shiver good night.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

April 21st

Nick hammock camped last night without a tarp, and came running into the shelter at some point when it started raining. I am glad I am in the Shelter regardless of the minor snoring last night. I have breakfast and pack up slow. I also manage to rid myself of some pepperoni, I thought I might eat (what was I thinking). Thanks Dave.

It is raining and I don't want to leave but I put it off no longer and head out ahead of everyone. I know I am slow and will need to get moving if I am to make it to Gooch Mountain Shelter as some of use planned. I hike down the creek that is the AT only to discover that I must ford Stover Creek. I wait, and think about the options. Cross in my shoes as they are already getting wet, put on my crocs and cross in them. Then there is try for the stones that are obviously meant to prevent this situation or go for more stable creek bed up stream a few feet.

While I am debating the options, Mandy catches up and we discuss the options together. Then two guys come up from the other side. The older gentleman is wearing jeans (really) and decides to go for trying to step on the stones and ends up over knee deep in the creek because he missed one. His friend opts to try crawling over a down tree way up the creek. Nick arrives. Mandy decides on Crocs and stable creek bed, I agree and follow her over. Nick goes barefoot. We all make it and get our shoes back on. Mandy gets going, then me.  There goes my head start.

I hike slow and eventually Nick and Nate catch up. We stop at some falls for water and pictures.

Nick and Nate eventually get ahead of me too, but I keep going and have my scenic snack breaks next to creeks and  places with views. I purposely don't nap today as I want to break that habit.

I am shocked to catch back up to Nate and Nick at the next shelter, Hawk Mountain. I know I am not staying here there were reports of 40 boy scouts at the shelter and a steep hill. Not worth it in my book, besides I still think I might make it to Gooch maybe. Nick is having troubles and they decide to stay there and get out to the gap and try for a ride in the morning (or so I heard).

I hike down into Hightower Gap were I encounter my first trail magic. A boy scout guy (Dan) who does foot care and gives me a pickle and splits an orange with me. He tells me there is no water for miles and says be careful. I waste time in the gap and soon realize Gooch is out. I will be dry camping and soon. On the way up out of the gap I am passed by a couple who say they are camping soon too, but they are not friendly about it and when I pass the site they have chosen I keep right on hiking. 

According to my phone I make it to mile 9.8 and have hiked 7 miles today. This is sad and disappointing as I fall 6 miles short of the goal. I am even more disappointed that I passed so many decent spots because they were to close to the trail and I was determined to keep going. The spot I chose is not level and but has great views. I setup camp and have a dry dinner. I then go looking for somewhere to hang my bear bag. While looking I find a great camp site and a tree to hang my bag from. I head back pull up stakes and carry the whole tent over folded up on its self. I re-stake it out and finish setting up camp. Snap a shot of the view from the old spot at dusk and go to bed in a slightly better mood in my new spot.

April 20th

I wake to rain and low spirits because I had wanted to make it to Springer Mountain last night. I get up and pack everything up inside the tent. I then take it to the shelter and return to pack my tent. I have breakfast and finish packing then head for Springer Mountain. The climb up the back of Springer reminds me that I don't live near mountains. It is a long slow climb in the rain, but I am first to sign the register at Springer this morning. I took the necessary photos and wandered around looking at the mountain and trying to figure out where to go from there...

The first white blaze!!!! Then on to Springer Mountain Shelter for another nap..... Filtered water and headed out about 2 or 3 hours later. My sleep schedule was way off.

Took a break to listen to a creek with my snack:

Hiked on toward Stover Shelter. At some point Dave, passed and I asked him to save me a spot. I get there and it is just use, then Sam rolls in, then Nate, Nick, and Mandy. Nate and Nick were out supporting Mandy at the start of her thru-hike. Sam was just hiking a section up and back. Dave was headed for Maine also.

We got a camp fire going and stayed up late, but it was such a blast. So different from the night before.

I only hiked 4.3 miles but I am glad I was here for the night.

April 19th

Everyone has to be ready to go soon after breakfast, so I shower the night before to be ready. I don't sleep too bad especially after the long over night bus ride. I was tired. The morning goes well, we are up and mostly packed before breakfast, including some extra food picked up from Walmart on the way back from the bus station. Some flat bread and mini peanut butters don't add too much weight, but I start to think I may not need all the food. Better safe than sorry, Right?

Breakfast is great and I eat too much. I guess I was thinking I would need the energy. While we are all seated plans are finalized and it is decided: Our load will drop 6 at Springer Mountain and then I will get dropped at Amicalola Falls State Park for the approach trail. I decided before I left home that I wanted to see the falls and I am rewarded with truly stunning falls. I am sad to already loose Brett and Lauryn, but I am hiking my own hike.

The approach trail takes you up to the falls and then up two sets of stairs, then on to Springer Mountain. If you'll notice in the above photo the floor and stairs are all that metal grate. I would like to say that it sucks for those with a fear of heights.

I hiked a total of 7.3 miles and climbed a total of 602 stairs. Mid day I setup my tent and mat and took a nap/rest. I packed it all back up and headed north to camp at Black Gap Shelter for the night. As the only person there I setup my ten again because the empty shelter was creepy. Previous hikers have not taken good care with this shelter.

Here is how it went...April 17th, 18th

So I am a little late with all this but:

I got off work the morning of the 17th and came home. I spent the day with my husband and then double checked everything and that evening Justin took me to the bus station in Baltimore. There was a teary goodbye and I was off. My bus left in the evening with several stops along the way to Gainesville, GA. When lined up for another boarding what did I spot but another backpack!! Brett was also heading to Georgia to hike. He explained that he had 2 months and wanted to see how far he could get. He didn't have plans so I invited him to the Hiker Hostel.

I realized somewhere along the way that in all my double checking I had still forgotten to put the TP in my pack. Once in Gainesville, Brett and I went looking for TP and food. From the bus station you can't see any real food so, we walked over to the little market on the gas station, no food but score on the TP. From there though you can see the Burger King, and we headed over for veggie burgers (he doesn't eat burgers, and I'm not a fan of BK). We took our meals back to the bus station so we wouldn't miss our ride.

We met Lauryn on the way to the hostel and the three of use where put in a bunk room together. We discussed gear and our hopes for our hike. I tried to talk them into hiking the approach trail with me. No takers, so it will be just me getting dropped off at the approach trail.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The list is getting smaller but not fast enough...

So the list of things I must do before I leave is getting shorter but not fast enough.
I still need to 
  • finish Ray-Way and other gear (quilt and bags, the hat is no longer in the plans)
  • 1.5 finals (I started one)
  • finish packing the first half of my drop boxes.
  •  update my blog with a final gear list and mail drop addresses.
  • spend time with my family.
I am making progress the mail drop list is almost ready... and I will pack the boxes as soon as I figure out the days worth of food that need to go into them. I started one final but took a break after the first 25-30 questions, and the other doesn't open till Friday night. My final gear list won't be set in stone till I leave so it may not get updated exactly. I am still trying to decide between an alcohol stove and a Jetboil. 

Oh and tonight I just messed up my little toe. I was trying to slide my chair over and my foot slipped into my computer and split the toe at the base of the nail. OUCH!! My poor little toe was dripping blood. 

So I better get to work on everything....I promise to update more often once I'm on the trail, and even if I don't make it to Maine I hope you all enjoy the adventure as much as I do. 

7 and a half more days!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Making my Gear!!

As those who have read my previous posts know I experienced some hip difficulties with my practice hike. I have decided that in ordered to reduce these issues I need to lighten my load and get rid of the hip belt.  So I decided to try my hand a gear assembly. I ordered a Ray-Way Backpack Kit. Reading about them suggested that the pack would weigh around 9 or 10 ounces, yup that would lighten the load, my Gregory Diva (a great pack) is 5 pounds 10 ounces or so. I also thought I would try some of their other gear to lighten even further. I can't comment yet on the rest but I can say that the Backpack is worth the effort. Assembly went fairly smoothly, and the finished product is as light as expected. Another plus, you get to pick the colors, not that I don't love my big red Diva, But I am hiking to raise awareness and funds for Pediatric Stroke so I wanted purple. The collar is purple and will be more noticeable when recently stocked with food. Oh and my husband let me get a purple rain coat so I'll be rocking a Purple rain coat and Purple rain skirt on those rainy trail days. 

I am getting excited as the days pass, 23 days till I leave for my adventure and 25 till I'm hiking toward Maine. Making progress on the drop boxes and will post a list with ETA's as soon as possible. I've been juggling planning this trip with work and homework, so this is what is left to do before I go:
  • finish Ray-Way gear (quilt, bags, and hat)
  • an essay
  • an article review
  • 2 finals
  • several regular homework assignments and conferences
  • finish packing the first half of my drop boxes.
  •  update my blog with a final gear list and mail drop addresses.
  • spend time with my family.